Our Holy Father
Antony the Great
January 30 (January 17, Old Calendar)
St. Antony the Great was born in Egypt in a village called Quemen-el-Arons near Heracleopolis in the year 251, of wealthy and noble parents who were Christians. As a youth he faithfully attended church with great intensity and seriousness. He did not have worldly ambitions and found secular education uninteresting. One day during the Divine Liturgy, he heard the words of the Gospel in which Jesus said to the rich young man, "if you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me" (Matt. 19:21).
After the death of his parents, he shared his inheritance with his sister, who was still a girl. He made sure that she was cared for, and gave away his half of the inheritance to the poor. At the age of twenty, he consecrated himself to the life of asceticism that he had desired from childhood. At first he lived near his own village, but went off into the desert on the shores of the Red Sea in order to escape the disturbance of men. Here he spent twenty years as a hermit in company with no one but God, in unceasing prayer, pondering, and contemplation, patiently undergoing inexpressible demonic temptations. His fame spread through the whole world and many disciples gathered around him, whom he placed on the path of salvation by word and example.
In the eighty-five years of his ascetic life, he went to Alexandria only twice. He went the first time to seek martyrdom during a time of persecution of the Church; the second was at the invitation of St. Athanasius, to refute the Arians' slanderous allegations that he too was a follower of the Arian heresy. He departed this life at the age of 105, leaving behind a whole army of disciples and followers. And although Antony was unlettered, he was, as a counselor and teacher, one of the most learned men of his age, as was St. Athanasius the Great. When some Hellenic philosophers tried to test him with literary learning, Antony shamed them with the question: "Which is older, the understanding or the book? And which of these is the source of the other?" The shamed philosophers dispersed, for they saw that they had only book learning without understanding. Here was a man who had attained perfection insofar as a man is able on earth. Here was an educator of educators and teacher of teachers, who for a whole eighty-five years perfected himself, and only thus was able to perfect many others. Full of years and great works, St. Antony entered into rest in the Lord in the year 356.
Troparion, Tone 4
Thou didst follow the ways of zealous Elijah,/ and the straight path of the Baptist, O Father Antony./ Thou didst become a desert dweller/ and support the world by thy prayers./ Intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion, Tone 2
Thou didst abandon the world's tumult and live in silence,/ and emulate the Baptist, O Antony./ Wherefore we acclaim thee with him,/ thou summit of the Fathers.
Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church
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